Exploring the Rich History of Medford, Massachusetts

shutterstock_131194763Located just five miles northwest of downtown Boston on the Mystic River, the city of Medford offers a great option for those who want to be near to Boston without living in the city. Best known as the home of Tufts University, Medford offers plenty of opportunity for higher education while also boasting a rich history.

Originally settled as part of Charlestown in 1630, the town is thought to have been named after one of two different locations in England. The first is the hamlet of Mayford or Metford located in Staffordshire near Caverswall. The other is the parish of Maidford or Medford, which is now Towcester, Northamptonshire.

The first bridge was constructed in Medford in 1637 when a toll bridge was constructed to span across Mystic River. Today, this bridge still stands as Cradock Bridge. Cradock Bridge carries Main Street into Medford Square. Up until 1787, it was the only bridge to cross the river. As such, it served as a major route from the city into Boston.

In 1754, the land south of the Mystic River that was known as Mystick Field was transferred from Charlestown to Medford. The deal also involved transferring the land that is now known as Winchester to Medford. In 1811, parts of Medford were transferred to Charlestown. Parts of the city were also transferred to Winchester in 1850, while other parts were transferred to Malden in 1879. From that point forward, the population of the city rapidly expanded. While there were only a little over 1,000 people living in the city in 1800, these figures climbed to more than 18,000 by 1900.

Today, Medford boasts a population of over 56,000. It is comprised of several well-defined neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include:

  • Central Medford
  • Fulton Heights (North Medford)
  • Lawrence Estates
  • Medford Hillside
  • South Medford
  • Wellington/Glenwood
  • West Medford

The city is also home to many historical buildings and points of interest. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, for example, was erected in 1690 and was the city’s first religious community. Grace Churceh, which was designed by H.H. Richardson, is also located in Medford. Other points of interest include the Amelia Earhart residence at 76 Brooks Street, Grandfather’s House, Henry Bradlee Jr. House and the Salem Street Burying Ground. The former site of Fannie Farmer’s house can also be visited at the corner of Paris and Salem Streets, while the John Wade House can still be visited at 253 High Street. The house, which was built in 1784, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

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